Intervista pubblicata su AZ Franchising di maggio 2013.
Two days ago, I made my second speech of the year.
Professional people from allover the GCC countries but also some from oversea, attended to this very well organised event by Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal, to share the Franchising philosophy, new trends and related businesses opportunities.
I wish to thanks the greatness Lebanese Franchise Association people for the very kind invitation and I hope to continue our cooperation as per our talks, checking the possibility of twinning Lebanon and Italy, therefore the LFA with IREF Italia.
For those who couldn’t attended, I’m gladly sharing here my speech presentation. Any questions or feedback are highly appreciated.
Last 12th of February, with a colleague of mine, I went to Ljubljana to meet some potential clients willing to develop a new food concept project. It was snowing and as soon as we entered in Slovenia, the panorama changed.
We arrived at the perfect time to make the check-in at the hotel and to have some free time to enjoy Ljubljana downtown. Have you been there? You should, its beautiful! Again the time was perfect to have an aperitif. We went to one of the most beautiful wine bar I ever seen, the Movia. The atmosphere you can brief there is totally brought from the vineyards. We had Movia Cabernet Sauvignon. Outstanding ! Dinner at River House.
On the 14th, I flew to Madrid to meet an architectural and engineering group for Retail and Food & Beverages projects. Their great services are complementary with those of DESITA, therefore we met to find a mutual benefit business collaboration agreement. We succeed! Later on, we went to visit some of their projects. Dinner at La Tagliatella an impressive franchising concept.
Last week I was in Dubai to attend to Gulfood. I was there together with FCSI EAME colleagues to guard the booth at the exhibition. We have been successful. Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) is the premier association promoting professionalism in foodservice and hospitality consulting. With over 1300 members in over 46 countries, FCSI members offer a wide range of consulting services including concept development, feasibility studies, food safety, design, marketing, operations and training. FCSI is changing a lot in its structure, philosophy and mission and we are all proud of this huge effort made by the Board of Directors. The website is brand new like the “foodservice consultant” magazine that provides authoritative insight, opinion and intelligence to help foodservice professionals keep in touch with the tings that matter.
It was nice to meet with clients, colleagues and old friends.
For an important meeting I went to the Armani Hotel at Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It was my second time there after its opening and to meet with my guest, I went to the coffee shop in the lobby. Time was nice so we decided to share an Italian bottle of wine. With all my surprise, the young waiter served us the ordered white wine with apparent difficulty and … the white wine wasn’t cold and not even fresh. Unbelievable.
We pointed out the regrettable inconvenience and the waiter brought us immediately a new bottle … with the same warm temperature. We had to call the waiter back and ask at least for an ice bucket and wait for a more pleasant wine temperature.
The fact is that I paid that bottle like 70 Euro and I didn’t receive any good service. It’s a shame as we were in THE Location. Now I probably understand why the f&b manager didn’t reply to my emails last year when I had my dinner at Mediterraneo. Beautiful atmosphere but very normal food. I think Armani Hotel has a lack in training human resources. Mr. Giorgio, please do something!
While I was in Dubai, I’ve been invited from a Sheikh friend of mine to attend the Peru Food Festival at Madinat Jumeirah’s Souk Amphitheater. What a surprise the Peruvian food. It’s just great! And it’s considered on the the next food trend worldwide.
So hurry up my friends, let’s organize a trip to Peru and all its wonders. Ready?
Well, I can’t write about everything happened because 15 days are quite long and things are many. I hope you enjoyed these few facts.
Traveling and sharing time with great people while having good food. Yes, that’s life!
L’Italia è un paese per vecchi. Spesso si ha l’impressione che le parole innovazione e cambiamento siano state eliminate dal dizionario. Tra le tante armi di cui si servono per stroncare sul nascere un processo di trasformazione, la più indisponente è sicuramente la burocrazia, un meccanismo complicatissimo che circuisce, illude e alla fine nega, bruciando idee, progetti, speranze. Ma per fortuna, non sempre.
Nel 2011, durante una campagna marketing di reverse graffiti realizzata dagli amici di GreenGraffiti Italia, abbiamo ricevuto una serie di multe dal Comune di Rimini per pubblicità non autorizzata e imbrattamento. Prima della campagna si era più volte cercato di contattare i responsabili dei settori Pubblicità e Occupazione Suolo Pubblico del Comune, per capire come pagare eventuali imposte pubblicitarie. La risposta ufficiale del Comune si può riassumere in tre frasi: non è in nessun regolamento, non è pubblicità, non c’è nessuna occupazione del suolo pubblico.
Una risposta non esaustiva ma forti del fatto che un mese prima l’Assessore all’Urbanistica aveva dato il suo nulla osta per un’altra campagna simile, si è giustamente pensato che non ci sarebbero stati problemi.
Abbiamo chiesto consigli a persone vicine all’amministrazione pubblica e ci siamo rivolti ad un avvocato, per rispondere alle accuse: la questione è andata avanti oltre un anno (la sentenza definitiva è stata depositata a settembre 2012) ma alla fine per ambo i procedimenti è stata dichiarata la mancanza di illecito.
Grazie a questo processo, che probabilmente doveva essere un passaggio burocratico obbligato (per l’amministazione), gli amici di GreenGraffiti hanno ottenuto la possibilità di lavorare in totale trasparenza non soltanto sul Comune di Rimini, ma anche su alcuni comuni vicini, come Santarcangelo di Romagna, Cesena e Riccione.
Precisione nell’esporre i nostri dirirtti e tanta pazienza, ci hanno permesso di fare una cosa che raramente riesce: cambiare le regole del gioco.
Many people have called me to ask me a review about Eataly. Many times I said that I would rather not comment, because I have the utmost respect for Farinetti’s vision and his hard work.
However, if I met him personally, a couple of things I would argue willingly.
Eataly is to visit, to live and to understand. For you some pictures of my visit to Rome site. Enjoy.
Il Progetto ParCO2 nasce da un’idea di SERINT GROUP e DESITA. Sviluppata con l’apporto di L’UMANA DIMORA, è stato condiviso ed approvato da MEETING DI RIMINI, che vi partecipa a supporto nella fase di start-up, con l’intento di intraprendere un percorso verso la sostenibilità, al fine di diminuire gli impatti ambientali prodotti durante l’evento Meeting di Rimini, comunicando l’attenzione dell’organizzazione verso le tematiche ambientali, la responsabilità e la sostenibilità. Realizzare uno spazio permanentemente e polifunzionale che riporti alla realtà del Meeting ed il suo impegno a beneficio del territorio. Generare cultura ed incrementare l’offerta marketing offrendo contemporaneamente ai potenziali sponsor la possibilità di condividere la propria attenzione verso i temi trattati.
Maggiori informazioni su www.progettoparco2.it
Vi ricordo che sarò presente al Meeting di Rimini dal 19 al 25 agosto presso l’Area della Sostenibilità chiamata Meeting Hearth, sia con uno stand DESITA che con lo stand dedicato al Progetto PArCO2.
Sono contento di annunciarvi che la linea di magliette eco-friendly di ECOFFEE di DESITA, con i suoi eco-mindful message attached (di cui l’acronimo è riferito ad Emma, mia figlia), è stata scelta come partner da un cliente speciale: il Meeting di Rimini.
In occasione della prossima edizione del Meeting, che si terrà dal 19 al 25 agosto, ed in riferimento all’Area della Sostenibilità, denominata “Meeting Hearth“, abbiamo prodotto le Polo ufficiali per lo staff.
Le Polo, di color bianco, sono di cotone piquet organico al 100%, certificate OE100, realizzate stampando direttamente con inchiostri a base acqua. I colori ad acqua presentano un’ ottima morbidezza sul tessuto e sono ideali per creare effetti di stampa più tenui e meno appariscenti. Gli inchiostri a base acqua hanno finitura opaca, quasi come se il colore avesse tinto il tessuto a differenza degli inchiostri plastisol che hanno finitura più lucida e superficie più plasticosa, del tutto impermeabile e non fanno traspirare il sudore. Inoltre il plastisol non asciuga in fase di stampa e quindi necessita assolutamente di una sorgente di calore a 150°C per polimerizzare, a differenza degli inchiostri ad acqua che possono asciugare a temperatura ambiente.
Come potete vedere, il logo è stato posto in corrispondenza del cuore, mentre la scritta staff, sulla schiena. Vi Piacciono?
Third and last day in London.
Too bad, I must confess that I was really enjoying it, and JD was a very special host. We got on really well and share the same “passion” for great foodservice.
I was really happy when JD asked me to act as a photographer (my other passion) during our first morning meeting: ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Harrods huge distribution center in Thatcham, which hosts a staff canteen, that according to the management, has to be improved.
Food is all around: the need for a foodservice consultant is not limited only to the restaurant business, and this site was a great example.
Harrods staff canteen in Thatcham showed a very large seating area, while the area dedicated to the self-service counter, to the food, is pretty oppressive. I found the green hospital-style colored walls and other details not that appropriate for the case. While I was absorbed with my photography task, JD asked my advice about how to create a more welcoming and functional environment. Based both on my first impression and on my experience, I immediately suggested three changes.
The second change: switch the location of the dirty trays trolley from the entrance of the food area to the vending machines area or to a more secluded area. It is not really nice to be welcomed by dirty trays in an area where you are going to eat food.
Third change: the creation of a dedicated area for those people who wanted to eat home-made food. I noticed that there were several people eating meals from Tupperware, stored in the refrigerator and then heated in microwave ovens. That was a great example of culture and freedom of choice, but I found more appropriate not to mix the two different kind of meal consumption – homemade and purchased at the canteen – therefore I recommended to create a separate area for the homemade meals consumption.
JD agreed, sharing my insights with the canteen’s manager. It was very rewarding to have given the opportunity to give my contribution.
This experience once again confirmed my opinion about the need to create better canteens in Italian companies too, where often pasta is offered too much and the interior design is not studied or considered at all. It looks like eating in an appropriate and comfortable environment is not that important to the employers as it is for the employees productivity.
After the meeting at Harrods, it was time to thank JD for his hospitality. I made the most of what I saw, now being able to offer to my clients around the world, new and exciting ideas. We both got a lot out of our “exchange”.
I spent the last hours of the day at Westfield London, a huge shopping center where I enjoyed acting as a mystery shopper, checking the organization, service, value, hygiene and courtesy of the shopping center various eateries. I must admit I found some very interesting concepts, as the following photos.
My London experience was positive: I learned a lot and this renewed my desire to bring back to Italy such professionalism and attention to details, skills that only an professional consultant has, moved our love for food, in all its forms and its implications.
Contrary to what you might think, Italy is a very difficult market, where professional foodservice consultants have to prove each and every day to entrepreneurs that there is a great difference between the service – and the consequence and outcome in terms of profit, provided by a professional and the service provided by an “extempore” professional. The two are very different.
I am really interested to know whether this kind of challenge does exist in other countries too, and how you deal with it as foodservice professional consultant. Please leave your comments. Thanks!
6.30 am. Wake up call, shower then breakfast. Waiting for JD my thoughts were all about the reason I was there in England, about how I ended up in London and then back over now, in my last professional years. A long flashback. Maybe I just needed an Italian coffee, a good espresso, to be able to think more clearly. Actually, I was hungry. Yes, I was hungry to act, hungry to discover and learn new things. A consultant has that kind of very visceral curiosity towards their mission, especially in our field, because food is culture, art, research AND passion.
7.30 JD arrived. First customer, first meeting: The British Library. At the desk there was a badge waiting for me, another sign of Coverpoint’s team great organizational ability. Nothing is left to good luck with this company. A two-hours long meeting to dissect the unthinkable with divisional managers and representatives of partner companies who work at the British Library. Great teamwork. It showed the job Coverpoint does there is based on a fully confident business relationship between JD and his client, something which is very important and that I have personally experienced with my clients, especially with Saadeddin. It is all about trust, and how people respect you.
How long does it take to create a project such as the one at the British Library or such as the creation of food venues inside a shopping mall? Let me tell you: it takes a lot! The context analysis, the customer analysis, demographics, research and comparison and buying habits are just some of many basic steps towards a winning proposal and concept.
The second meeting of the day: Cabot Circus, a big shopping centre in Bristol, an Old city of England famous for boats and railways. With the ambitious goal to reassess the concepts related to food, the meeting was there to challenge “is it possible to do better, and how?”. These are the issues the consultant gets excited about and gives his/her best. To analyze the present to predict the future, the consultant in this case also acts as a trendsetter.
Morley Stores was the last stop. We went to Elys, that’s located in Wimbledon and the leisure atmosphere, the “I eat fast and go back to the game” concept could be deeply experienced, at least that was impression. To my disappointment I visited the department store. Everything looked old and not looked after, and for the first time since the beginning of my journey, I would have gladly added a touch of Italian design- made by DESITA, of course!
JD has presented a rather interesting, Coverpoint’ style, analysis: “Where are we now”, leaving the presentation of “Future Roadmap” to the next meeting. It was a pity the meeting ended so soon, ideas had just started to come to my mind.
A comment about my second day? Thumbs up!
Important clients, complex organizations that really care about the effective functioning of the area they devoted to food. I start thinking about Italy, with its incredible potential, which we often do not make the most of it, because of improvisation and of tight regulations. It is in a country such as Italy that FCSI, with its professional consultants, can really make an important difference to support the food retail industry with strategy and direction.
The day ended at a hotel restaurant, where I quickly had a mega cheeseburger and fries too tired for a real dinner. End of second day.
Food and foodservice? A perfect relationship – a foodservice consultant must take into account many things. What customers eat, the correct support provided by the right chair, the colour and presentation of the food, how to be enhance and not alter the ambience and lighting and how to provide a pleasant and empathetic welcome from the staff. We also have to carefully design balanced spaces, use appropriate furnishing to create the perfect atmosphere, giving substance to the initial idea, or better, to the finished concept.
I have always wondered whether it is really possible to split the relationship between food and the tools used in its processing, its creation, its packaging, its availability and what gives it a meaning and a key to its interpretation.
I have been working in the design concept field since 1997, and to me the word “food” has a very extensive and multi-faceted meaning, touching the highest peaks of the “philosophy of life” and the “pleasure of taste and sharing” to be transferred in design and in projects and finally, in emotions. The challenge is to be able to mix the tools and know- how to improve the work of what I call the “food master” (bartender, chef, sommelier, consultant, etc.) thus amplifying the pleasure of the guest, the foodies.
This must be why I loved the three days I was invited to spend in London together with Jonathan Doughty, Coverpoint Managing Director and FCSI EAME President.
Coverpoint offers highly professional advice in the foodservice sector, supporting its customers with a wide range of services, from consumer behavior trend analysis to location services. Coverpoint services are complementary to what I am actually offering with my company DESITA.
But how I ended up in London? At the end of March 2012 I was visiting Hostech 2102 in Istanbul, representing Italy at the FCSI EAME booth. During that event, I had the chance to meet Jonathan Doughty again, and it reminded me of the idea I had during our previous meeting at the Gulfood Dubai expo, I asked him whether it was possible to organize a visit to his company’s headquarter to watch him and his team at work. To me it was like going back to school and act as an “intern”, but to Jonathan my request had an all together different meaning: “You’ll come to work”.
JD agreed and this made me wonder a lot about the differences between the Italian entrepreneurial approach, sometimes so self-flattering, and the one of other countries, very often less formal and more professional.
On Monday, May 21st I was at Heathrow, where James, one of JD’s consultants, was waiting for me to drive me to Coverpoint’s headquarter. I did not know what to expect, but I was sure I was going to spend three days at their office. (Office? Coverpoint’s heart beats in a charming renovated 200 years old barn in the middle of the country!
Once I arrived at the headquarters, I was warmly welcomed by the Coverpoint team. I immediately felt at home, settling into such a professional “vision” and environment. It was there that my learning process began: I was invited to study some of their more interesting projects. Data is of primary importance to Coverpoint’s work: data collection, analysis, interviews with customers, best practices implementation. I could not believe I was allowed to see all that information, and time passed very quickly.
Between a chat and a coffee, I was handed a four-page detailed visit schedule. I was speechless: I was invited to follow Jonathan during his meetings. I became very excited by reading the name of the clients I was suppose to meet: The British Library, Cabot Circus, Harrods to name a few.
At the end of that exciting day, I had a delicious dinner together with Adam and Ian, JDs Senior Consutlants at The Royal Oak, where I had the chance to enjoy the atmosphere of the traditional British pub, which has a Michelin star!
When is a restaurant’s atmosphere good? It is when you do not feel out of place, when the environment seems familiar, but at the same time you are getting curious to discover each and every single location detail. You never get bored in a great restaurant.
At The Royal Oak we were immediately greeted by a beautiful girl in traditional uniform. We settled in the lounge for a cocktail – a beer of course, then went to have dinner in the main hall. The food was very good; Diver Caught Scottish Scallops with celeriac puree and Hazelnut Vinaigrette – 8oz Black Angus Sirloin Steak, “on the bone” Chips, Bone Marrow and Madeira Sauce and as a dessert Chocolate Fondant, Toffee Sauce, Almond Biscuit, Coffee Ice Cream. All beautifully prepared but in a relaxed and informal environment.
There was only one negative point for me. That was the cheese trolley behind us. Quite often, the air became unbreathable with the smell of cheese! I would highly recommend that the restaurant owners never leave cheese on a trolley for too long without some form of cover. It is not that beautiful to see and even less to feel and smell, but most of all it is not particularly hygienic. What would the HACCP manager say?
It was a very cheerful evening. And that was only my first day and the fun was yet to come … (to be continued)